In Norway we do celebrate our constitution day in a special way – with children shouting hurrah for freedom and democracy and no military parade. We have done that for at least 150years.


Perhaps a strange question. But relevant. We celebrate maybe not to present ourselves in our best finery – our finest costumes, eating ice cream and cakes and enjoy ourselves. Maybe throw a glance at the school parade or civil parade to look for your family, kids or neighbor’s kids, maybe shout a little cheer or take a beer or two – to come to work with a hangover the day there on – also called 18th May!

My contention is that we are very lucky to celebrate May 17th as we do. It is a tradition that is already in its inception over a century ago went in the right direction – as a demonstration for freedom, similarities and constitution – performed by children – the future we will build on. That Swedes who are coming to visit Norway, envy our national day, we should be proud. It could have gone much worse in 1814 if the Swedish king to be, Carl Johann, had been in a different mood.

And we look around in this world; Who can celebrate the national day in the way we do – in peace and tolerance – without military or police intervene and disperse the demonstrators with tear gas.

A country in Africa I know-  they have more or less three national holidays: Independence Day, Liberation Day and the day of the heroes. None of them are holidays – life around the country must go on, but turn on the television, you will see from the large military parade in the stadium as well as the president’s speech as always about all the good he and his government has made over the past year ; Although people have been arrested or imprisoned without charge or trial (for reasons of national security) because they have criticized the president or government. This applies not least journalists and media people who regularly flee the country when they have produced one for system critical application.

This country received in 2010 a new Constitution that was actually adopted in a referendum in which 67% of the people voted for that country should have democracy, freedom of expression and that international human rights should be paramount.

In 2013, elections were held and a new president was elected. The choice was ultimately between two candidates, and there is no doubt that the winner, stood behind rigging of the election. Nevertheless approved Supreme Court elections – under doubt. The other candidate accepted the decision, otherwise there would have been civil war – perhaps worse than the one that took place in 2007/8 where more than 1,300 people were killed.

It did not take long before the president with the majority in Parliament backed adopted on the background of the tense security situation (= Al-Sjabaab) to abolish freedom of speech and human rights in the Constitution. The newspapers declared that press freedom in the country was dead. The authorities tried to prevent a number of critical television channel came on the air. The women’s new rights were also attempted opposed. The last event is that almost 1 million refugees will be expelled from the country in the near future. This is a land of many considered to be a leader in the democratic development in Africa.

A new election will take place this year. We do hope for the best – a peacefull event.

We want the constitutional rights in our country must be respected by all. Not least by the authorities and those who have power. It happends mostly – for we have over 200 years of tradition to build on. But it is not a given. Not least when we look around in the world outside us.

Therefore the celebration of 17th of may is a good habit, but no course habit. How we celebrate it, will be up to the individual.

Although I will sing national songs in source and see my Kenyan “bonus child” walk in parade, waving flags and shouting hurrrraaaa!



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